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Turfgrass Mystery: where can we find this beautiful grass?

Shade and the Performance of Warm Season Grasses in Asia

Have a look at this image. It is an aerial view of Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, a 36 hole golf course in Manila. The West Course is on the left side of the image, and the East Course is on the right side. Do you notice a difference in the grasses?

To me, the grass on the East Course looks greener and healthier than the grass on the West Course. And the grasses are different. The East Course has broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) fairways and manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) greens; the West Course is all hybrid bermudagrass.

Trees on the East Course (see below) throw shade everywhere, but the carpetgrass and manilagrass still thrive in these conditions. The bermudagrass does not.

This case study on The R&A's Golf Course Management site provides more details and photos about the benefits of using native grasses at Wack Wack. The aerial view shows just how well those native grasses perform in that environment.

Just down the road at Manila Golf Club, there is some incredible shade thrown across the course each morning by a row of 55 story buildings on the east side of the property.
In such heavily shaded conditions, manilagrass performs the best, then seashore paspalum, with bermudagrass (Cynodon) not doing well at all. In the photo below, I identify the manilagrass with my nose, and the bermudagrass test plots identify themselves - they are basically dead. 
In tree shade or in building shade in Southeast Asia, manilagrass performs exceptionally well as a fine turfgrass. But there is another type of shade, one that can block up to 75% of photosynthetically active radiation. That is the shade that comes from clouds. 

498_micromolesLast week, I took this photo at 10:51 in the morning. The sun was behind a cloud and the quantum meter has a reading of 498 micromoles of photosynthetically active light per square meter per second. That is less than 25% of full sunlight. The effect of clouds is not terribly important for cool-season grasses, and most textbooks ignore it, but this is a big issue for warm-season grasses.

I've studied and written about this and its relevance particularly to the conditions so common in East and Southeast Asia.

From Indonesia in the south to Japan in the north, we see that manilagrass, and in the areas with average annual temperature above 22°C, carpetgrass as well, perform extremely well. Particularly in shaded conditions, which can be caused by trees, buildings, or clouds, these grasses outperform bermudagrass and seashore paspalum. 


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